Present for You
Yoshihoko Dai’s debut feature, Present for You, is a curious confection, flipping randomly from live action to doll animation. And it’s in 3D. The largely incomprehensible plot revolves around Shigeru Kajiwara (Joe Odagiri), sporting a retro 70s look selling out to the owner (Isao Natsuyagi) of the Give Me Money company by being the guy who kills the boss’s enemies. They’re delivered to Shigeru’s decrepit office above a ramen shop in a mythical natsukashi Shimbashi. This Shimbashi is full of ostensibly colorful characters – prostitutes, waitresses, café owners, a salaryman who’s always seen at the edge of rooftop contemplating suicide. Shigeru gets his first victim, the “present” of the title, delivered – one Muneoka-san (Akira Emoto) – and then the plot veers into a whole lot of, well, plot – of some sort. The whole mess that makes up the mercifully short film seems mainly to be a calling card so Dai can show off his animation chops, though has no idea about how to structure a story, let alone how to direct real actors – or even puppets.
Originally published in EL Magazine, March 2015.